Monday, February 22, 2010
This is your brain on speed
I still remember my first panic attack.
That first sensation of being totally overwhelmed and drowning in open air hit about 10 years ago. Then it was specific - it was about money. Or, more specifically, my inability to pay all of my bills. My starting pay at the Charlottesville Daily Progress was a pittance of $18,500, just barely enough to live on in a major university city. Funny thing was, I did just fine before I got roommates. Or, so I thought.
Since then, I've had about half a dozen panic attacks, generally work and/or money related. Most often, I wake up with a sense of dread that won't let me sleep. It needles at my brain starting around 3 or 4 a.m., and grows stronger as I continue to put off getting out of bed. It typically centers around a sensation that I've forgotten something; that I've been lax in some particular duty or responsibility.
About half the time, once I get up and out of bed, it's gone, and I'm left wondering what the hell my subconscious thought was so damned important. The rest of the time, I get out of bed, trip over the cats on my way to the living room and write until the claws let loose of my head.
The first one I had in my current job was a doosie, and sent me to therapy. There were, and are, a variety of issues, but therapy was fantastic. Sometimes I think I should go on a permanent basis. Since my husband's motorcycle accident in 2004, the frequency of my anxiety stepped up a notch.
The truth is, the greater the responsibility, the greater the anxiety - the stakes are higher. Waking up early on a weekday morning with that sense of dread isn't uncommon, and it's strongest on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday's anxiety tends to be the "Oh, crap, what did I forget in the paper," or "who's going to call and complain about something trivial today," variety.
The one thing that really stems the anxiety for me is exercise. And this morning, because the last week hasn't really afforded the opportunity to exercise - I've worked out just once - the anxiety is a little strong. This weekend was a busy one that, while spent with friends and family, didn't really afford the chance for much relaxation (which I also need), or 2-hour chunks of time to peddle and lift my demons away.
Sometimes, it takes a "crack" game with repetitive actions and goals to lull my brain into a sense of evenness. My husband sometimes makes fun of these games, but they do serve a purpose for me.
So this morning, once I post this, I'll turn on the new crack - Popcap's Plants versus Zombies, play a couple of rounds, and then work on the lastest baby afghan. It's going to be one hell of a long day, I think.